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Obituaries

Maureen Jelks - 1941 - 2018

Maureen died at her home in Kirriemuir on 20th December 2018. Blessed with a modest unassuming demeanour, crystal clear voice, unassailable optimism and an unforgettable laugh, Maureen made countless friends in her 77 years.

Bill Spence - 1940 - 2019

Bill Spence of Voorheesville, NY, passed away on 7th February 2019 at the age of 78, with his family at his side.
Known as a master of the hammered dulcimer, Bill Spence is often credited with the folk instrument’s revival in the 1970s. Bill’s musical and social achievements over very many years are simply astonishing. Not only was he a great musician, he also dedicated much of his life to encouraging and supporting other musicians. The following words quoted from Walt Michael, one of many musicians inspired by Bill to take up the hammered dulcimer, hint at some of the things which Bill achieved.

Roger Marriott - 1928 – 2019

Roger Marriott died in February in hospital after a relatively short illness. A lot can be packed into 90 years and it is a testament to Roger that at his funeral there were people present from so many differing aspects of his life. Together, he and his wife Beryl, who died a few years ago, were incredibly influential figures in the folk revival, and were known to many in the current scene.

Bill Caddick - 1944-2018

Like most readers of The Living Tradition, I knew Bill through his songs, folk club and festival appearances and knew very little about the other aspects of his life and family. Attending Bill’s funeral, together with three or four hundred other people, was an uplifting, emotional and revealing occasion.

Frank Bechhofer - 1935-2018

Refugee, Cambridge graduate, Royal Artillery officer, engineer, Shakespearean actor and director, sociology professor, folk club organiser, folk music agent – Frank Bechhofer was a veritable polymath indeed. As his family confirm, he seldom spoke in depth about the first of these attributes, yet they recognise that his experience of arriving in Nottingham from Nuremburg at the age of three, without a word of English, as his Jewish family fled the Nazi regime, undoubtedly shaped his outlook on life in subtle ways. Committed to the politics of inclusion and social justice, his door was always open, and a warm welcome awaited inside for all comers.

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin - 1950-2018

Musician, composer, performer and educator Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin died on 7th November 2018 at the Milford Care Centre in Limerick after a lengthy illness. He was 67.

Vincent Campbell - 1938-2018

Vincent Campbell, a hero of Donegal fiddle playing, passed away on 2 December 2018. He was born on 22nd August 1938, close to Glenties in the Donegal Gaeltacht, in an area known locally as The Croaghs. This area was part of a rural society which had traditional music, dancing and the Irish language at the centre of its culture, and this always remained a huge part of Vincent’s life.

Roy Bailey - 1935-2018

Roy Bailey, who died on 20 November 2018, was widely known as a fine radical folk singer. Throughout his singing life, he had moved from skiffle to traditional English music, and on to songs of commitment to a whole variety of humanitarian causes. He was blessed with a wonderful baritone voice and a sharp wit which endeared him to audiences at folk song clubs and major folk festivals world-wide. His greatest skill was to turn wherever he was performing into an intimate venue where you were close to him, no matter how far away the centre of the stage happened to be.

Alec Finn - 1944-2018

The death of bouzouki player, guitarist and artist Alec Finn on Nov 16th following a stroke deprived the traditional music world of a unique, colourful and admired musician. Born in Yorkshire to Irish parents, he was reared with two brothers and a sister in Rotherham while his father worked in the local steelworks. His mother played piano and his grandmother had ceili band records, which Alec heard as a child. He took up guitar, and in the early 1960s attended the local art school where his teacher introduced both him and fellow guitarist Rick Ward to the blues music of ‘Blind Lemon’ Jefferson, ‘Lightnin’’ Hopkins and others. He and Rick played in local folk clubs before Alec moved to Dublin where he worked as a commercial artist, and for a time shared his flat with Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Around Dublin, he played in the Cana Band with the blues singer Red Peters, creating a sound resembling the 1930s Memphis Jug Band.

Brian Watson

Brian Watson, the lad from Prudhoe, died in late November, aged 84. The minute I first saw him, winning the Morpeth Gathering traditional singing competition in 1976, I thought: “This is the real McCoy, northeast singing at its most authentic,” and I’ve thought the same ever since. His mam and dad were both musical, the father regularly singing Tommy Armstrong songs, but when the folk revival arrived in the late fifties, he was busy exploring the world with his wife and brother - first in the kangaroo trade in New South Wales, followed by his delivering the first Toyota car to New Zealand.